Policy Alert on O Nonimmigrant Visa Classifications

September 28, 2020

By Immigration Group

This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.

On September 17, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy alert and published a new section in its Policy Manual related to the “O” nonimmigrant visa classifications. The new guidance expands on how officers determine whether an O-1 petitioner has satisfied the evidentiary criteria and established in the totality of the evidence that a beneficiary has extraordinary ability, or extraordinary achievement, in the motion picture and television industry, as applicable. It also clarifies the circumstances under which a petitioner may rely on “comparable evidence” to meet the evidentiary requirements for certain O-1 beneficiaries.

O-1 nonimmigrant status is available to individuals of “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, business, education, athletics and those with a record of “extraordinary achievement” in the motion picture or television industry, who are coming to the United States temporarily to work in their areas of extraordinary ability or achievement. O-2 status is available for essential support personnel coming to the United States solely to assist an O-1 artist or athlete.

USCIS is also incorporating into the Policy Manual existing guidance relating to certain nonimmigrant athletes, coaches and entertainers (P-1, P-2, and P-3 nonimmigrant classifications) and their essential support personnel.